Craig Calcaterra

Miami Marlins owner Jeffery Loria
Associated Press

Report: Jeff Loria has a handshake agreement to sell the Marlins

49 Comments

Mike Ozanian of Forbes reports that Jeff Loria has a “handshake agreement” to sell the Miami Marlins. The price: $1.6 billion. Loria paid $158 million for the baseball team in 2002.

The identity of the buyer is not reported, but Ozanian says it’s a real estate developer from New York. As you know, however, Major League Baseball, with its antitrust agreement in hand, must approve any buyer, and they prefer owners who will not rock the boat. That said, Loria has been through the franchise sale rodeo before, having once owned the Expos. Major League Baseball’s tolerance of his ownership of his two teams has made him fabulously wealthy, so it’s not as if he’s the type that would necessarily rock the boat when it came to finding an acceptable buyer.

Stay tuned.

Wanna buy a minority share in the Dodgers?

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  A general view as the Chicago Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Getty Images
13 Comments

Are you a billionaire or, perhaps, a centimillionaire who is bored with day-to-day investing? Would you like to be treated like a god when you go to a ballgame rather than merely being treated like a king like all the other luxury box owners? Do you want to brag to your friends at the country club about how the business you partially own makes it, like, three steps from the top of its industry year after year?

If so, do the Dodgers have a deal for you! Bill Shaikin of the Times:

The Dodgers’ owners are interested in selling a small share of the team and have retained an investment banker to solicit bids.

There is no timetable for a possible sale, said the banker, Sal Galatioto. He added that Mark Walter would remain the Dodgers’ controlling owner, with his partners from Guggenheim Baseball Management.

This, like the way the Mets sold minority shares a few years ago, is a means of getting some liquidity into the hands of Mark Walter and his fellow Dodgers owners. If you buy a piece of the Dodgers you won’t get to hire or fire anyone and Tommy Lasorda will still get a better parking place than you. You will get access to a luxury box or maybe seats behind home plate. Though not as good as those seats that agent with the dark hair and glasses who sits just to the first base side of the lefthanded batters box gets. He’s there every night and he’s not moving for you.

But you will get to say you own a part of the Dodgers. You will get bugged for cash calls on occasion. You will get a polite “no” when asked to examine the financial records of the business and, if you actually do get to see them, you will likely be obliged to tell people that, really, baseball teams make no money at all, because that’s what baseball owners do.  And, in 5, 10, 20 or never years from now, when the majority owners decide to sell the team, you or your descendants may make a nice profit. Before then the principal owners can likely buy you out at a bargain rate for them, should you require it.

Yes, all of the perks of owning a non-controlling interest in a closely held company can be yours if you have, say, $20 million for a vanity investment. Who wouldn’t want that?

Rob Manfred seems pretty gung-ho about legalizing sports gambling

NEW YORK - MARCH 1:  A man holds his betting slips and money at an Off-Track Betting (OTB) parlor in Midtown Manhattan March 1, 2008 in New York City. The board that oversees New York City's OTB operations voted last week to close all 71 parlors by mid-June since the city does not want to subsidize the gambling outposts. State officials are contesting the ruling.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Getty Images
22 Comments

Rob Manfred was at a business summit put on by Yahoo yesterday when the topic of legalized sports gambling came up. Baseball’s commissioner had this to say:

“There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting,” Manfred said. “We are reexamining our stance on gambling. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing with the owners.”

He went on, in his typical Manfredian way, of clearly signaling his views on the matter in a manner that might allow him to later say he has no set opinion. The upshot, though: everyone’s gambling already, so isn’t it better if it was legalized and regulated? One might surmise that he, like other sports executives like NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who has signaled his eagerness for legalized sports gambling, are also wondering how they could get a piece of that sweet, sweet action, but I suppose that’s a separate discussion.

Major League Baseball’s views have certainly evolved over the years in this regard. In 2012, Major League Baseball — then led by Bud Selig — sued in an effort to block legalized sports wagering in New Jersey, saying it would raise doubts about the integrity of the game. I guess they got all of that sorted out in the past five years.

I tend to think Manfred is right that people are gambling anyway, so why not bring some of it into the light. I’m not personally a gambler and, though many people gamble responsibly and get enjoyment out of it, I tend to think that gambling has a negative net impact on society. Prohibitions, however, tend to be self-defeating and ineffective. Better to regulate a potentially harmful activity in a manner that discourages it than to engage in the folly of thinking people won’t do it if you make it illegal across the board.

As for the baseball-specific angle: the harm of players throwing games like the 1919 White Sox is far less now than it once was given the lower financial incentives in play. Players make a lot more money now and the cost of getting them to risk their careers and integrity over a ballgame or seven seems pretty prohibitive. I’d be more worried about umpires, managers and coaches and, if sports gambling was legalized everywhere, I would hope MLB would be sure to increase its scrutiny of its people’s activities in this regard.

As for baseball gambling in general: have fun, everyone, but know that anyone who bets on a single game or even a single series needs to have their head examined. Baseball is way too random for that.